The provision of a good working environment for nursing staff reduces the risk of patients needing to go back to hospital by up to 10%, nurse academics have found.
Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing found that the environment in which nurses work had an effect on the treatment of patients.
Each year patients being readmitted to hospital costs Medicare more than $15 billion in the US, which could be saved with better care. And Medicare has responded by giving penalties to hospitals readmitting large numbers of patients.
The research looked at information from more than 200,000 nurses working at 412 hospitals based in California, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. The report claims that pensioners with pneumonia were 10% less likely to be readmitted within 30 days if they were treated in a hospital which provided staff with a positive working environment.
Hospitals which were considered to be good places to work also reduced the readmission of over-65s with heart failure by 7% and over-65s who had suffered from heart attacks by 6%.
Health policy expert Matthew McHugh, who was the lead author of the report, said the team’s findings indicated that if efforts were made to improve the working environments for nurses and cut their workloads then fewer patients with common medical issues would need to be readmitted to hospital.
He said recruiting more nurses could help the situation and although it would cost a lot of money, it would cut down on the amount which would need to be spent on replacing staff and training up new additions. He said it would also improve the outcomes for patients.
The research was paid for by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the National Institute on Ageing, the National Institute on Nursing Research, Penn Institute on Urban Research, and the Frank Morgan Jones Fund.